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12 Festive Gifts Family and Friends Will Want to Keep

As we approach that festive season of giving and taking, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on our need to satiate our irrational desire to make each and every Christmastime a tasteless, trashy and tawdry affair. Think about that gift list and cross off any item that is likely, post December 25th, to find itself binned, broken or taking up residence in the nearest charity shop. Instead, give some thought to real gifts that are chosen with sincerity, having practical value, personal relevance and a pleasing aesthetic.

From a wooden toy to a table clock, a graphic poster to a cosy tome, these gift ideas are a selection of things that family and friends will want to keep.

Wooden Toys

Kay Bojesen’s wooden animals and toys are a pleasure to own, engendering a genuine sense of happiness in both grown-ups and youngsters alike. Bojesen began to explore his passion for wood in the 1930s, and as a consequence, created some of Danish design’s finest legacy pieces.

Songbird Alfred and Wooden Elephant.

Wooden Bear and Monkey.

Wooden Zebra.

Images via Connox.

A Tasteful Vase

Parisian brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec designed Ruttu, a collection of ten vases in five sizes and seven colours, for Finnish brand Iittala. Each vase takes seven craftsmen 24 hours to manufacture at Iittala’s glass factory on Hämeenlinna, Finland. Attractive, clean and simple, the Ruutu vase will enliven any dull sill or bland shelf.

Images © Studio Bouroullec.

Graphic Posters

Atomic Printworks is a British graphic design venture whose science- and nature-based prints make for intelligent, conversational and educational poster displays. Beautifully illustrated by graphic designer Simon Tyler, themes include geography, space, math and electron shells. On the face of it such topics may read as dull or too complex, yet Tyler’s sincere and sharp-witted approach ensures his designs are vivid and fun, appealing to adults and children alike.

Images via TOJO.

The Designer LED Bulb

In 2015, British firm Buster + Punch launched the Buster Bulb, a superlative LED bulb that emphasises good design and innovation. A project that was two years in the making, the Buster Bulb is both elegant and easy on the eye. Available in three tasteful tints – gold, smoked and crystal – the bulb is perfectly paired with a Heavy Metal pendant.

Image via Visual Cookies.

A Night Light

Turkey-based Nude is a high-end glassware company with a pragmatic, curious and fresh approach to product development. Using glass as an enabler of human connection with our immediate surroundings, Nude’s transparent objects are imbued with a tactility that is pleasing and sensorial. The Night Light, part of Nude’s Loft Collection, has a clear or green glass shade that sits atop an oak base and gives off a warm and soothing lustre.

Image © Domozoom.

Some Wooden Tableware

Tokyo-based designer Kazushige Miyake launched his eponymous venture Miyake Design in 2005. Miyake’s covetable designs are typically unobtrusive, utilitarian and elegant. This wooden tableware for Isuke & Co (specialists in Japanese lacquerware) incorporates fourteen individual pieces, each crafted using wood from the zelkova tree (part of the elm tree family). Skilled craftsmen lightly lacquer the tableware in order to accentuate the wood grain and patina.

Images © Miyake Design.

A Modernist Coatrack

A place to hang one’s hat or a perfect wall adornment, the modernist, functional and decorative Matégot Coatrack was designed in the 1950s by Hungarian-born Mathieu Matégot and reintroduced by Danish design concern Gubi. The coatrack is available in either multi-color and brass or black and brass.

Images via Nest.co.uk.

A Table Clock

As technology increasingly intrudes on our daily lives, it is often gratifying to seek sanctuary in simple, tactile things. For instance, using a ‘proper’ alarm clock to usher in the day instead of that ever present, meddling smart phone. Arne Jacobsen’s Table Clock, originally designed in 1939 for a private residence, was reintroduced in 2011 by Rosendahl. An elegant and modern timepiece, the clock has been updated to include a snooze function and light sensor and is available with five different faces: Station (this writer’s favourite, it has a Bauhaus air), City Hall, Bankers, Roman and LK.

Station face.

LK face.

Images via Panik Design.

A Reversible Tray

The Turning Tray, designed by Finn Juhl in 1956, is an oh-so handsome dual-sided tray made with teak wood and glossy laminate. The tray’s graceful corner joints work to enhance its pleasant aesthetic, augmenting what is a simple yet striking design statement.

Images © Architectmade.

A Crafted Keyboard

French design studio Orée has been taking steps to design products that combat the need for constant renewal. Theirs is an approach that embraces slow living, craftsmanship, honesty and luxury. In its quest, Orée is building tools that are useful, elegant and lasting. Paying utmost attention to design, materials, detail and craft, Orée’s technology products have an ability to connect with individuals at a soulful, emotional level.

Image © LaRuche.IT.

A Portable Lamp

Pretend to be a 21st century Charles Dickens by tiptoeing around your home with the USB chargeable FollowMe lamp. Designed by Inma Bermúdez for Spanish lighting venture Marset, this delightful little fella will go wherever you desire. FollowMe is affable, bijou and with three dimmer settings, quite the clever character.

Images © 2015 Marset Iluminación S.A.

The Cosy Tome

The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes, published in partnership with Gestalten, is a cosy manifesto of liveable homes, from city to beach, house to high-rise. This new tome is the antithesis of that genre of architecture and interiors books and magazines whose pages present an unattainable state of perfection wrapped in vacuous insincerity. Instead, Monocle offers more than 200 pages of real, charming (and yes, often well-heeled) homes, alongside some savvy home truths and a helpful directory of all things related to creating a cosy abode.

The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes, Copyright Gestalten 2015.

Gerard McGuickin

Gerard is a writer, a thinker and a modern-day gentleman living in a modish neighbourhood in south Belfast. Walnut Grey Design is his popular manifesto of good design. From Gerard’s discerning perspective, design should be aesthetic, smart, honest and gratifying. Moreover, it must be for keeps. A self-confessed urbanite, Gerard is enthralled b[...]

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